Hair and Beauty Trailblazer Apprenticeships

Trailblazers standards, assessment plans and implementation for hair and beauty

Background to the Development of the new Apprenticeship Standards in Hair and Beauty

Following the finding from the Richard Review, the Government announced in October 2013 a reform would be completed on Apprenticeships so that they are more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. The Apprenticeship reforms are designed to address the barriers that employers identified to taking on apprentices by putting employers in the driving seat, increasing quality and simplifying the system. By getting employers directly involved in designing the new Apprenticeships it will ensure that businesses have the right skills and knowledge for their future workforce.

To support this transformation, the Government established an initial eight Trailblazers - these are groups of employers working together to design new Apprenticeship standards for occupations in their sectors. The Trailblazers are made up of leading large and small employers and professional bodies who represent the sector and/or industry. These employers have been collaborating to design Apprenticeships for occupations within their sector to make them world-class. The standards they have designed will be the basis for new Apprenticeships.

In April 2014 the Government announced the second phase of Trailblazers involving leading employers in 29 sectors, following employer demand. Hair and Beauty have been selected to be within this second phase with delivery of the new Apprenticeship.

For further information, please visit the Apprenticeship website.

Hair and Beauty Trailblazers

The Hair and Beauty Trailblazer steering group was created in 2013 and was jointly chaired by George Hammer (Urban Retreat) and Hellen Ward (Richard Ward) who alongside leading large and small employers and professional bodies including Habia and the NHF have been working collaboratively to develop the standards for both hair and beauty.

In October 2016 as a result of the standard development becoming more complexed and industry focused the Hair and Beauty steering group has been spilt into two groups:

· Hair Professional Apprenticeship Steering group (inclusive of Hairdressing and Barbering)

· Beauty Professional Apprenticeship Steering group (inclusive of Beauty Therapy, Nail Service, Spa Therapy, Beauty and Makeup Consultancy and aesthetic practitioner)

Habia would like to express a HUGE Thank you to the employers who have helped to develop the first Hair Professional and Beauty Professional Trailblazer standards and assessment plans:

Hair professional

  • Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa
  • Regis UK
  • SAKS
  • Toni & Guy
  • Quiffys
  • Fusion Hair & Beauty
  • Rogers of Chell Barber Shops
  • Phaze 1 Hair and Nail and Beauty Lounge Ltd
  • Alan D Hairdressing
  • The Master Barber Shop

Beauty professional

  • Urban Retreat
  • SAKS
  • Armonia
  • UR Beautiful Ltd
  • Fusion Hair & Beauty
  • Phaze 1 Hair and Nail and Beauty Lounge Ltd
  • That Nail Place
  • Clinique
  • Estee Lauder companies
  • Ken Green Associates
  • Clarins

Thanks also the The Association of Employment & Learning Providers and the Hair and Beauty Awarding Organisations for their support.

  • City and Guilds
  • ITEC
  • VTCT

New Trailblazer Standards for Hair, beauty, Advanced Beauty Consultancy and Aesthetic Practitioner for level 3,4 and 5 are under development

  • Please watch this page for further detail regarding the consultation process in May 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Trailblazers?

Groups of employers responsible for setting apprenticeship standards in England: what an apprentice should know and be able to do before they are ready to work in hair and beauty. The groups include large, medium and small employers and are supported by the Habia and NHF.

What's the difference between apprenticeship frameworks and the new apprenticeship standards?

As part of the Government Apprenticeship reforms apprenticeship frameworks are being phased out and replaced by Trailblazer standards from May 2017 where they have been developed


Trailblazer standard

Hairdressing Intermediate Level

Hair Professional standard – Hairdressing Route ( developed) Level 2 ½

Hairdressing Advanced Level

Barbering Intermediate Level

Hair Professional standard – Barbering Route( developed) Level 2 ½

Barbering Advanced Level

Senior Hair Professional ( standard under development) Level 3 ½

Beauty Therapy Intermediate Level

Beauty Professional- Beauty Therapy Route (developed) Level 2

Beauty Professional- Beauty Consultancy Route (developed) Level 2

Nail Services Intermediate

Beauty Professional- Nail Services Route (developed) Level 2

Beauty Therapy Advanced Level

Advanced Beauty Professional (standard under development) Level 3

Level Nail Services Advanced Level

Spa Therapy Advanced Level

Aesthetic Therapy Professional(standard under development) Level 4

Aesthetic Practitioner(standard under development) Level 5

Specialist Aesthetic Practitioner(standard under development) Level 6)

Which Hair and beauty standards have been approved?

The Trailblazer groups have developed apprenticeship standards at level 2 which have been approved and published by the government.

The hair professional standards include:

  • Hairdressing
  • Barbering

The new standards are set at a higher level than the apprenticeship frameworks and include some knowledge, skills or behaviours which were at level 3 in the old frameworks, being phased out.

The beauty professional standards include:

  • Beauty and make-up consultancy
  • Beauty therapy
  • Nail services

The beauty and make-up consultancy route is an entirely new standard covering those who work in beauty retail settings.

Please note the Standards are only two pages for the full details of the standards you will need to view the employer occupational briefs

When will the new standards be available?

Although the hair and beauty apprenticeship standards are now published, standards are not available for delivery until assessment plans are also approved and published by the government.

The hair professional assessment plans have just been published, but as they include new qualifications which still have to be developed, the hair professional standards will not be available for delivery until May 2017.

We expect the beauty professional standards to be approved shortly, also aiming for launch from May 2017.

What's different about the new apprenticeship standards?

To achieve a hair professional apprenticeship, learners must successfully complete:

  • An end-point assessment carried out by an Independent Apprenticeship Examiner at the end of the apprenticeship, similar to a trade test.
  • A new qualification, the Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing / Barbering).
  • Maths and English functional skills at level 1 but learners must also take the level 2 functional skills tests (even if they don’t pass them). Learners who have achieved Maths and English GCSE at grade A*-C are exempted from functional skills.
  • Apprenticeships will be graded at pass or distinction level depending on the learner's performance in the end-point assessment.

The qualification is assessed as learner’s progress through their apprenticeship programme. The final part of the qualification is the end-point assessment. Apart from the end-point assessment, all assessment will be carried out by the training provider/centre as specified by the Awarding Organisations

How do I find out the detail of what learners should be taught?

The Employer’s Occupational Brief sets out the detailed information about what learners should be able to do and what they should know and understand for each part of the apprenticeship standards and for each unit of the Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing / Barbering).

The Employer’s Occupational Briefs are available here for hairdressing and here for barbering.

How long do the new apprenticeships last?

Typically, two years for the hair professional standards, but the minimum duration is one year.

For the beauty professional standards one year is the minimum which should be long enough for most learners to achieve the standards required.

How are the new standards assessed?

The Trailblazer groups are also responsible for developing assessment plans which specify what will be assessed, how it will be assessed and who can carry out the assessment.

An Independent Apprenticeship Examiner will observe learners carrying out specified practical tasks, set out in the assessment plan. They will also use oral questioning to check the learner's knowledge, skills and understanding, also set out in the assessment plan. The end-point assessment will be graded based on the learner's overall performance.

Click here for the Hair Professional assessment plan.

The Beauty Professional assessment plan has been submitted and is waiting for final approval.

Can learners retake the end-point assessment?

Yes, but they must re-do the whole assessment. They cannot retake just parts of the assessment because it is a holistic assessment. At the time of writing, there is no time limit on the number of retakes. However, there will be additional costs for any retakes which are unlikely to be covered by funding.

Employers are therefore strongly advised to enter learners for the end-point assessment only when they are confident that they are competent in all the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for the end-point assessment.

Who can carry out end-point assessments?

Independent Apprenticeship Examiners, appointed by Assessment Organisations, who have no connection with the learner, the employer or the training provider.

For the hair professional standard and the beauty professional standard, the Assessment Organisation must be an Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, because the end-point assessment is a compulsory part of the Diploma for Hair Professionals.

What is the apprenticeship levy?

Employers with a pay bill of £3million or more will be required to pay 0.5% of their pay bill into a pot, to be used for apprenticeship training. The levy applies across the whole of the UK but how the funds can be used varies between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Large employers will have a £15,000 allowance to offset against their levy payment. Levy funds will be available through a new digital service on GOV.UK. The first funds will appear in digital accounts in late May 2017. 20% of the total cost will be held back, to be paid on completion of the apprenticeship. Any unused funds will expire after 24 months.

Click here for a link to government information about how the apprenticeship levy will work

What about employers who don't pay the levy?

This section applies to England only.

  • Non-levy paying companies must contribute 10% of the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment.
  • Small employers (less than 50 employees) who take on 16-18 year olds, or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan will not pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment.
  • Any employer taking on 16-18 year olds or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan will also receive £1000 to support the additional costs of training these groups and the training provider will also receive £1000. The money is paid in two instalments, £500 after 3 months and the balance at 12 months.

Contributions from employers must be in cash, not kind, but can be spread over time.

What will it cost me as an employer?

In England, Apprenticeship standards are allocated into one of 15 funding bands once assessment plans have been approved. For the hair professional standards, the funding band is set at Band 9 which means that the maximum government contribution is £9,000.

The beauty professional is yet to be set by government

Unless they are small employers taking on 16-18 year olds, or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan employer will be required to pay 10% per apprentice.

Employers are expected to negotiate the price of training and assessment with training providers

What does that mean for me?



  • A large employer with a pay bill of £3m or more
  • 0.5% of your paybill
  • A medium sized employer eg 80 employees
  • 10% or £900 per apprentice
  • A medium sized employer eg 80 employees, taking on a 16-18 year old
  • 10% or £900 per apprentice. You and your training provider will each receive an incentive payment of £1000.
  • A small employer eg 10 employees, taking on a 16-18 year old
  • Nothing. You and your training provider will each receive an incentive payment of £1000
  • A small employer eg 10 employees, taking on a 24 year old
  • 10% or £900 per apprentice

Do I still need to pay the apprenticeship National Minimum Wage?

Yes. Employer contributions towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment are on top of the wages and any other employment-related costs you already pay for apprentices. Here’s a link to the minimum wage rates:

How much of the apprenticeship is off the job training?

Employers must allow all apprentices to spend a minimum of 20% of their working week (eg 6 hours of a 30 hours working week) doing off the job training, either in the salon or with a recognised training provider, academy or college.

Will apprenticeship agreements change?

Yes. Anyone starting on the Trailblazer apprenticeships will need a new-style apprenticeship agreement. Apprenticeship agreements must include a commitment statement to be signed by employers, apprentices and, for 16-18 year olds only, by parents/carers.

Will the AGE grant continue in England?

No, from May 2017 it will be replaced with the new apprenticeship funding arrangements described above.

Is funding still available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Check the websites for:

  • Skills Development Scotland
  • Welsh government
  • Northern Ireland Assembly

Apprenticeship reforms are underway in each of the home nations so information will be changing as those reforms are implemented.

How will digital vouchers work?

A digital voucher system will be introduced in England from May 2017 for levy-paying employers. Non-levy paying employers will continue to make payments direct to providers, moving onto the digital system at a later date (to be announced).

Visit the ERR section